In what was an extremely hard fought contest, Minnesota displayed strong shot selection and a high level of perseverance defeating the Fever for the sixth consecutive time as Indiana looked to out-hustle the defending Champions.
"Indiana is a tough team, they really challenge you. You basically have to make one more play on offense and one more play on defense. You have to be prepared to do that every possession, go one more. We always have great battles in games with them and we're just happy to come out with a win."
The Lynx were at the end of a grueling schedule, playing 6 games in the last 10 days, yet they still came out of the gate with intensity. Lynx center Janel McCarville got the momentum going early with a couple of aggressive baskets in the paint. Teammate Seimone Augustus simply could not be stopped during the first quarter, putting up 9 points while shooting 66%.
Indiana struggled at finding their range, shooting just 35% during the first. However, some phenomenal play from center Erlana Larkins and a good effort from forward Karima Christmas kept the Fever within range as the quarter closed out with a 19-14 Minnesota lead.
"I was trying to get inside and be aggressive, and get to the free throw line. Against a team that puts a lot of pressure on you, you have to fight pressure with pressure. I just tried to get in the lane and finish."
Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore
Minnesota started the 2nd quarter with a combination of scoring from Janel McCarville and Lindsay Whalen as well a slight push from the bench, which pushed the lead to 11 early in the quarter.
The Fever responded by making some key adjustments on defense, they shut down the passing lanes and created 17 points off 8 Lynx turnovers as Indiana closed out the half on a 23-6 run, giving them the lead 41-35. Starting forward Karima Christmas made an impact on both sides on the court, while guards Shavonte Zellous, Briann January, and rookie reserve Maggie Lucas continued to push the offense.
““It was definitely helpful to play through mistakes here and there, kind of get into a rhythm, but I thought my older teammates really helped me a lot and they helped me keep the flow of the game."
Indiana Fever rookie Maggie Lucas
As the half begun the Lynx returned to form, limiting offensive turnovers and doing a solid job of getting in the face of Indiana’s shooters holding them to 27.8% shooting. Fever guard Shavonte Zellous was playing extremely aggressive, but failed to find the support she needed to hold off Minnesota.
The bulk of the Lynx offense during the third quarter came from Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, and Lindsay Whalen who combined for 21 of the team’s 26 points during the quarter. That effort, as well as tremendous defensive play by Lynx reserve Devereaux Peters, put Minnesota back on top 61-59 heading into the final quarter of play.
"Hard game just like we thought and I told the team what I was really impressed with was our defense for sure, we defended our tails off. Jim Pete did a great job preparing us, we had a great shoot around, we had great focus.”
Minnesota Lynx Head Coach Cheryl Reeve
The forth was tooth and nail basketball. Both teams played at a high level, and both teams made crucial mistakes. Indiana was able to bring the game to a tie on 4 separate occasions behind the strong play of starters Briann January and Karima Christmas, but was never able to secure a lead.
Minnesota stood tall down the stretch with Maya Moore leading the charge. Whalen and McCarville encouraged ball movement, while key reserves Tan White and Devereaux Peters helped the Lynx to close out the game 83-77 with a well earned win at home.
"Well I thought we just battled against a really fine team, you got three Olympians and we don't have any. I thought we did all we could to stay close with them. I think at the end of the day when you win the boards and when you're tied with four or five minutes left, you're doing all you can do.”
Indiana Fever Head Coach Lin Dunn
Karima Christmas earned top points for the Fever with 18 to go with 8 rebounds, 5 steals, and 3 assists. Guards Shavonte Zellous and Briann January both put up 16 points, while rookie Maggie Lucas scored 13. Starting center Erlana Larkins came in just shy of a double-double with 8 points and a team high 10 rebounds.
Maya Moore put up 19 of her team high 25 points in the second half, she added 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 assists during the contest. Seimone Augustus finished with 16 points, while Janel McCarville closed with 10 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 blocked shots. Key reserve Devereaux Peters had a solid outing with 9 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2 assists.
“Obviously, I want to be on the court. It’s nice to finally start getting back into the flow of things, and I’m starting to feel like I’m getting back. Just trying to do my part.”
Minnesota Lynx reserve Devereaux Peters
Player of the game honors go to Lindsay Whalen who was definitely a model for clutch offensive efficiency in the contest. Whalen finished the night with 16 points on 5-5 shooting from the floor and 6-6 from FT in addition to dishing 6 assist, grabbing 3 boards, and recording one steal as the Minnesota Lynx earn a tough win at Target Center.
“Whalen is always a key for us, especially in tough games like this, when it’s grind it out. She tends to put people in the right position when they need to be, and to take the shot when it needs to be taken. Perfect from the field and the line, couldn’t ask for anything more out of Whay (Lindsay Whalen) today.”
Minnesota Lynx center Janel McCarville